Space Wolves Codex Review

The late end of 2020 draws through ever more so, and with it comes a slew of new codex updates for Warhammer 40,000. Space Wolves are one of the first factions to see a refresh in their new supplement. Does this howl the Space Wolves into a glorious saga? Or does it whimper out of the gate with its tail between its legs?

The first major point of note would be that this isn’t a Space Wolves codex, it is a Space Wolves supplement. Thus, this book will be much, much shorter than the previous book – around 60 pages fewer, as it turns out. Not only this, but you’ll need the Space Marines codex to fully utilise it. This does feel like a blow to Space Marine chapter players who would now have to haul two books around, with the one bespoke to their army being so light in comparison.

Additionally, not everything seems to have made the cut into 9th edition for Space Wolves. Within the supplement there is no datasheet for:

  • Rune Priests
  • Wolf Scouts
  • Wolf Priests

With the old codex housing 77 datasheets and the new supplement bringing it down to 29, it feels like a startling cut of content. Granted, a lot of the datasheets in the old book are units that are rolled into the Space Marines codex, but it feels like it devalues the chapters.

Unleash the Hounds

It’s not all trimmings, however, as the Space Wolves supplement sees with it a new unit! The Hounds of Morkai act as am anti-psyker squad of Reivers specialising in combat against those who harness the Warp. Unfortunately, these guys are a little underwhelming as they would simply appear to be a Reiver squad with a Space Wolves upgrade sprue. The rules themselves are situational at best, but this would be a lot easier to swallow if these guys came with exciting new miniatures.

The Hounds of Morkai were an opportunity to unveil some new models for the Space Wolves. An opportunity that was simply not harnessed.

Fortunately, the rules themselves have found a better footing within the Space Wolves supplement. The Crusade rules themselves are particularly flavourful and exciting. The introduction of Sagas makes for an apt and thrilling way to have your Space Wolves armies thrust themselves into glory, potentially granting temporary or even permanent buffs to characters and their allies.

As an example, let’s look at Saga of the Wolf-kin. To complete this Saga your chosen Warlord must kill an enemy model in close combat. A nearby friendly core unit may always be treated as having made a charge move for shock assault, granting additional close combat. Upon completing this Saga, you can then spend a requisition point so that he has this aura ability permanently. These Sagas allow your Space Wolves to feel far more unique that typical Space Marines.

Fighting Tooth and Claw

Other rules land firmly for Space Wolves, giving the codex a bit more weight. There are some stratagems that will likely see use in most games. Keen Senses is one of them, costing 1CP allowing an infantry, cavalry or biker unit to ignore any and all hit roll modifiers and charge modifiers until the end of the turn. Beastial Nature, also at 1CP treats any single infantry, cavalry or biker unit as being in the assault doctrine, regardless of what doctrine is active.

The amount of lore and background information in the Space Wolves supplement is sufficient, covering all the crucial and pivotal segments of their history. However, once again, I can’t help but feel compared to the size of the previous book that this could have had even more information covering one of the less conventional Space Marine chapters.

Fortunately, Ragnar Blackmane still looks rather fantastic alongside his fellow wolf-kin.

Now, some of this and additional smatterings of rules can likely be find in Saga of the Beast, the Psychic Awakening Supplement. However, this starts to weigh heavily on my mind (and back) as with this in mind you could end up taking 4 books for your Space Wolves game of Warhammer 40,000. The core rulebook, the Space Marine codex, the Space Wolves supplement and the Saga of the Beast supplement. This simply feels quite overkill and a step in the wrong direction for some of these armies.

Hunters Semi-Leashed

The Space Wolves supplement brings the Space Wolves into 9th edition but it feels as though they’re somewhat hampered. Or, at least, the players are handed something of an under-cooked offering. With units removed (likely relegated to Legends), a shortened page-count and a reliance on other books, I can’t help but look at the Space Wolves supplement with a sour expression.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad. There is a sense of fantastic representation of Space Wolves in their Crusade rules and Ragnar Blackmane looks to be an absolute monster, as he so should be! With the updated Space Marines rules and units to support, Space Wolves could still be in a strong place on the table.

It just feels like such a shame that to some extent the Space Wolves will probably end up leaning on more generic Space Marine units as a crutch. The reliance on the older books feels like it’ll have an accurate reflection on the table. Imposing this on one of the more interesting and feral chapters of the Space Marines simply feels quite dampening and disheartening.

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